Community//

School Days

Attending a private college afforded me the opportunity to avoid most of the subjects I did not like, such as English. I had already had enough English classes to last me a lifetime, as far as I was concerned. That changed when I entered my first advanced class in my chosen field of concentration: Neuroscience. […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Attending a private college afforded me the opportunity to avoid most of the subjects I did not like, such as English. I had already had enough English classes to last me a lifetime, as far as I was concerned.

That changed when I entered my first advanced class in my chosen field of concentration: Neuroscience. I was fascinated with the human mind and all it’s intricacies of wonder and awe. Little did I know my academic pursuit would require me to write papers. Good papers if I wanted to do well. You see, only half of my grade was due to content, where I excelled. The other half of my grade came from something I never heard of called “writing style.” Most likely I had heard of it in high school, but conveniently zoned out when the lesson was taught.

It seemed every time I turned in a paper my research and content was graded high – 98% was normal. But when it came to my writing style, I could only get 10-20%, and I was lucky to receive that high of a score. My grade was barely passing in a subject I loved. My professor wasn’t much help explaining to me what he meant by writing style, and why I sucked at it. I just knew after talking to him that we were not connecting. My desire was there. I wanted to learn, and I wanted to excel in his class. One day, I went to him, practically in tears and professed, “Dr. Gross (not his real name), I just don’t understand what you want from me.” As professors go, Dr. Gross was pretty smug and condescending to me, and not much help at all. He finally said, “Why don’t you go speak to Dr. Steiner (not his real name, either) in the English Department? I’m sure he will tutor you.” This added to my growing frustration because I was paying my way through college. I simply didn’t have the money to take on a tutor because I was barely making it as it was. In my desperation, I called Dr. Steiner anyway. He was warm, receptive, and encouraged me to bring him some of my papers. We would “go over them together.” Finally, a breakthrough, I hoped.

Dr. Steiner and I met on a cold Tuesday evening. Within minutes he took a red pen and circled subject matter, pointing to the circled content while asking me who or what I was referring to. To me, it seemed easy to pinpoint the answer to his question. Not to the casual reader, though. I was writing the same way I would speak to another person if I were telling a story. In storytelling, you have voice inflection which makes it easier for the listener to follow along. Not so in writing. What he taught me made sense. Very quickly my writing style improved dramatically. I was getting an ‘A’ on every paper from that point on. In all honesty, I am not certain Dr. Gross was as pleased as I hoped he would be. He was an unhappy character all around, and probably belonged in a research lab away from people.

My writing style has benefitted me for decades. I carefully construct everything from my blog posts (www.seeking-grace.com) to articles I contribute here on Thrive Global, even emails. Having a well-honed writing style really helped when, in 2018, I published my first book, “Killing My Father Then Finding Him.” Writing is important, no matter what your vocation is. People notice. I am grateful I found Dr. Steiner. His patience and teaching made an impact on me, one that has stayed with me all my life.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Be the change that you want the book to bring to the world”, with Author Lillian Stulich

by Ben Ari
Community//

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Author: “Write with someone in mind” with Taylor Leddin

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
Community//

Least Likely to Succeed

by Rico Aliers

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.